With Malicious Intent

by Aadeel Akhtar

Businessman - a middle-aged desi business man
Graduate student - a desi graduate student at a university
(The businessman and graduate student should remain anonymous for the sake of generalities in society)
Random Male Customer 1
Random Male Customer 2
Random Female Customer 1
Random Female Customer 2
Random Male Student 1
Random Male Student 2
Police Officer 1
Police Officer 2
FBI Agent 1
FBI Agent 2

Setting: Airport terminal around 5am. Seats set up to look like a terminal. A CNN-type news show should be playing very quietly in the background.

On stage center: a middle-aged business-man, Man 1, in a suit sitting in a chair in the terminal. He has a bouquet of flowers sitting on top of his briefcase on the seat next to him. He is reading the news paper.

Enter Man 2, a graduate student at a university going to a flight home

Graduate Student: Oof, there isn't a single place to sit down in this terminal. (he sees the briefcase on the seat next to the businessman) Excuse me sir, may I please sit down right there? (The businessman is not paying attention, the grad student walks up to him) Sir?

Businessman: (startled and frustrated) Yes, yes, what did you want?

GS: I wished to know if you would kindly move your briefcase so I may sit down in this seat.

BM: (annoyed, reluctantly moves his briefcase) Yes, fine. (The flowers drop to the floor in front of the seat)

GS: Thank you so much! You dropped this (starts to pick up the flowers from the floor, but the businessman quickly picks them up before him).

BM: (annoyed) Yes, I know, thank you.

GS: (quietly) Sheesh...

Awkward silence

GS: So...what are the flowers for?

BM: Must you pry into my business?

GS: Sorry, just trying to make some conversation.

BM: (pauses, then sighs) Well, if you must know, these are for my wife.

GS: Oooh, she'll be really glad to see you coming home.

BM: (scoffs) I wish... You see, I'm a businessman and constantly travel around the country. I rarely see my wife, and this time she said if I don't take this last flight home, she's going to leave me for good. So I figured I'd go an extra step and give her flowers as well.

GS: (slightly confused) Going the extra step is flowers...? No offense, but that's a pretty generic thing to do.

BM: (sighs again) You misunderstand... These are her favorite flowers-the same ones I presented to her as we rode the palanquin in our marriage.

GS: Oh, I see.

Awkward silence.

TV: (as a news broadcast) Breaking news: the suspects of a recent terror plot have been linked to Al-Qaeda. They seem to have been from Pakistani origin according to the FBI's inductive reasoning...(news fades into quiet, unintelligible background noise again).

GS: Can you believe this? You know, for once, I'd like to hear what the "inductive reasoning" process was for the FBI. (The businessman gives him an awkward stare) What? Don't tell me you actually believe this kharafaat.

BM: Actually, I don't believe it's kharafaat. In fact, I'm glad that the FBI is actually doing something about this. The world would be a better place if Al-Qaeda was obliterated.

GS: Yes, but don't you think they take things a little too far? I mean, it's as if the word "terror" is now associated with anyone who would wear a khadi. Do you see how quickly the news always associates any (quoting with his hands, very sarcastic) quote-unquote "terrorist plot" with a desi person? Where are you originally from?

BM: Pakistan.

GS: Even worse! If you're from Pakistan, people definitely assume you're a terrorist.

BM: Excuse me, but if you're a successful businessman like me, people treat you with respect.

GS: Don't tell me you've never experienced discrimination ever since 9/11.

BM: No, I haven't. The law and society rightfully punishes those with malicious intent.

GS: With malicious intent? Let me tell you how the law determines malicious intent...

Smoke fills up the stage; a harp plays in the background to signify the start of a flashback.

GS: (as the smoke fills up the stage) This story happened about a month after 9/11. It took place in a normal corner grocery store you'd find in the city and involved a Punjabi man...

Smoke clears. The airport terminal seats are gone and the setting should now look like a grocery store. Enter a Punjabi man, wearing traditional clothing and a turban. He's browsing the aisles and placing groceries into his card.

Punjabi: (with heavy accent to Random Male Customer 1) Excuse me... this does have meat in it?

Random Male Customer 1: Hey towel-head, learn to speak English! I hope you're not buying any ingredients for bombs!

Random Female Customer 1: Oh my God! There's a terrorist here!? (She turns to look at the Punjabi)

Random Female Customer 2: We have to do something!

Random Male Customer 2: Let's surround him so he can't leave!

The random customers start surrounding the Punjabi.

Punjabi: I'm not a terrorist! Stop! Please somebody help me!

RMC1: Die terrorist! You're no good!

RFC2: Get out of our country! It'd be better off if you never existed.

The random customers begin to throw groceries at the Punjabi surrounding him, dropping him to the floor and stomping him with their feet.

Smoke fills up the stage again; a harp plays in the background to signify the end of the flashback. The graduate student is back sitting in the airport terminal seats next to the businessman.

GS: The Punjabi man ended up dying in the store because the police ended up doing background checks to make sure he wasn't a terrorist before taking him to the hospital.

BM: And how do I know that you didn't make that story up right now? Or maybe that you heard it from exaggerated sources as you claim the news and media to be? I'd like to see some proof...

GS: Yeah? And I'd also like to see some proof about these terror plots the so-called law is blaming all us desis for...

BM: Oh please...

GS: Fine, I'll tell you a story from my own personal experience. This time, I can claim myself as a witness to these events.

Smoke fills up the stage; a harp plays in the background to signify the start of a flashback.

GS: (as smoke fills up the stage) This happened last year at an event that the South Asian Student Alliance at my university holds every year-Bhangra Blowout. Last year, the school was undergoing construction, so we had to hold the event off-campus.

Smoke clears. The airport terminal seats are gone and the setting should now look like a college-sponsored party event. Daler Mehndi's song "Rang de Basanti" is playing in the background. The graduate student is dancing bhangra along with many other university college students. Suddenly there's a knock at the entrance to the room.

Random Male Student 1: Oh balle! There's someone at the door!

Random Male Student 2: I'll get it. (Opens the door and finds two policemen standing there). Umm... hi officers, what seems to be the problem?

Police Officer 1: We've been receiving complaints from the neighbors that your party here is too loud.

RMS 2: Hmm... our school had informed the neighboring residents that we would be holding this event here tonight, but that's alright, I can let everyone know to turn it down.

PO 1: Excuse me, but are you talking back to me?

RMS 2: No officer, I didn't mean any harm, I was just saying that the neighbors had been informed-

Police Officer 2: Now you're accusing us of lying? Well, I also heard that you damn sand niggers were plotting some terrorist plot as well.

The music stops. Random Male Student 1 walks over to the police officers.

RMS 1: Hey officers, it's not this is an opium den or anything like that. This is a school event! Leave us alone!

PO1: Is that a threat? (Police Officer 1 corners Random Male Student 1 against a window).

RMS 1: (scared) No...

PO 1: (shoves Random Male Student 1 hard against the window, breaking it) That's right-'cause I will rip you and every one of your terrorist relatives to shreds for coming to this country and killing my wife and every other American you've touched.

Police Officer 1 drops Random Male Student 1 underneath the broken window and shattered glass falls on top of him.

PO 2: (starts to walk offstage with Police Officer 1) Don't even think about telling the school about this, ‘cause you'll all be in big trouble with the police. As far as we know, the broken window was caused by one of you drunkards (pointing at Random Male Student 1).

Smoke fills up the stage again; a harp plays in the background to signify the end of the flashback. The graduate student is back in his normal clothes sitting in the airport terminal seats next to the businessman.

BM: The police probably only came because you're all immature college students who just like to party and cause mischief. And as far as I know, you guys probably did provoke the police officers.

GS: I'm telling the truth. It's a wonder how someone like you hasn't been adversely affected by this detrimental stereotyping.

BM: (with haughty grandeur) I guess more people should become as successful as I am.

Public Announcement: American Airlines Flight Number 786 is now boarding.

GS: (getting up to leave) I'm telling you man, you better be prepared. They'll be out to get you too. And don't say I didn't warn you...

BM: (sarcastically) Yes, thank you so much for your insight on how to live my already successful life.

The graduate student heads toward the desk. The businessman begins to gather his things and is just about to walk offstage when he is halted by FBI agents. Two spotlights fall on the graduate student and the businessman. The graduate student looks on helplessly at what occurs.

Agent 1: (aiming a gun at the businessman) You there! Stop right where you are and put your hands up!

BM: (confused laugh) Haha, what seems to be the problem sir?

Agent 2: This is no laughing matter sir. Hand over the flowers!

BM: (confused) The flowers? But these are for my wife...

Agent 2: I said hand over the flowers, and don't try anything funny!

BM: Do you realize how hard it was to find these flowers? This is a $4000 bouquet!

Agent 2: That's it, men apprehend him!

BM: But wait! I have to make this flight or else my wife is going to leave me! You can't do this!

Agent 1: (apprehending the businessman with 2 other FBI agents) Sir, you are being charged with malicious intent of an attempt to hijack this plane. You knew that the pilot has a fatal allergic reaction to these flowers. You have the right to remain silent...

Agent continues to read the businessman his Miranda Rights.

BM: But-But this is a mistake! I had no malicious intent! These flowers were for my wife!

The Agents drag the businessmen offstage (opposite the plane's entrance where the desk at which the graduate student is at). The graduate student regretfully walks off and the stage goes black. The curtain falls.